"Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."
—Captain John Parker of the Lexington Militia
No one really knows who fired the first shot at the battle of Lexington Green on April 19, 1775, but the result is not disputed—America was at war for her independence from the British Crown.
British regulars had marched into Lexington that morning on their way to Concord to capture and destroy military supplies that were reportedly stored by the local militia. Forewarned of the approach of the British by riders Paul Revere and William Dawes, the Lexington militia had assembled on the town green. After being told to disperse by British Major John Pitcairn, the militiamen began to return to their homes. A shot rang out, and by the end of the short skirmish, eight Massachusetts men were dead.
British troops then continued their march to Concord, where five companies of Minutemen and Militia met them at the North Bridge. The British fired the first shot here and fire was returned from the Colonials. In 1837, Ralph Waldo Emerson would use the phrase "the shot heard round the world" to describe the significance of this battle.
The British, caught by surprise at the resistance, began a long retreat all the way back to Boston along what is now known as the Battle Road. Along the way, they were subjected to constant musket fire from the militiamen, who took cover behind trees and stonewalls. British casualties at the end of the day numbered 73 killed and 174 wounded.
Minute Man National Historical Park brings these events to life for visitors. The Minuteman statue at the North Bridge symbolize the ideas of freedom and liberty, and standing up for what you believe in. Lexington Green is outside park boundaries, but within the park are North Bridge and restored sections of the Battle Road between Lexington and Concord where you can walk in the footsteps of the British troops.
Inspired by living in this birthplace of American freedom, a literary movement was spawned in nineteenth-century Concord that included famous authors such as Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Their homes are part of the park.
From a battle for freedom to a literary revolution, Minute Man National Historical Park has many amazing stories to tell.